Tuesday, 2 September 2014
Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Amendment Bill 2014; Second Reading
That this bill be now read a second time.
I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.
The speech read as follows—
I am pleased to present legislation that will benefit members and former members of the Australian Defence Force.
As a result of the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements, a new methodology was implemented from 1 July 2013, to calculate the amount of permanent impairment compensation payable under the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (MRCA).
This new methodology applies to persons who have an injury or disease already accepted under the Veterans' Entitlements Act (VEA) or the Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act (SRCA).
Under these circumstances, the compensation payable under the MRCA is assessed taking account of conditions accepted under the VEA and/or the SRCA, to ensure that any compensation paid is assessed on a whole of person basis.
This compensation is referred to as transitional permanent impairment compensation.
The Bill will enable the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to retrospectively apply the new methodology resulting from the Review of Military Compensation Arrangements in circumstances prevented by the current legislation.
This is expected to result in an increased amount of MRCA compensation for some recipients. It should be noted that the retrospective recalculation is being undertaken on the basis that no person would be disadvantaged.
Where the new calculation would result in a lesser amount of MRCA compensation, the amount of the person's MRCA compensation would be maintained at the existing amount.
The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission began the retrospective recalculations for transitional permanent impairment compensation in January of this year.
This highlighted a technical barrier in the existing legislation that prevents the retrospective recalculation of transitional permanent impairment compensation in certain circumstances.
These circumstances are where the person's claim for permanent impairment compensation was the subject of a claimant initiated review by the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission, or a review by the Veterans' Review Board or the Administrative Appeals Tribunal.
Under the existing legislation, the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission has no power to reconsider these decisions.
This meant that the MRCA requires amendment to enable the new methodology to be retrospectively applied to recalculate the amount of permanent impairment compensation payable in these circumstances.
The amendments in this Bill will enable the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Commission to complete these reviews.
The Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act has now been in operation for 10 years.
The Act commenced on 1 July 2004 and was the first compensation legislation designed to cover the whole spectrum of military service.
The amendments in this Bill are an example of the ongoing fine-tuning that is necessary to ensure the Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act continues to serve the needs of those who serve.